Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

West Coast Green is this week in San Francisco, and I am honored to be among the distinguished list of speakers at the event. I will be co-presenting a panel on Integrated Water Systems with Paul Kephart from Rana Creek and Andy Mannle this Friday, October 2, at 11am. The panel we did last year, “The Sexiest Large Scale Water Design Applications We Have Ever Seen”, was S.R.O. So they’re bringing us back for an update, which we’re calling (somewhat less racily) “The Whole Pitcher.”

Also at West Coast Green, Sherwood will be participating in the “Greening Fort Mason Design Slam.” The event was created to brainstorm design strategies and practical ideas for the continued evolution of Fort Mason Center as a leading environmentally sustainable destination. I will be facilitating this charette this Friday October 2 at 12:30pm along with a number of great minds from WRT, The Grove Consulting, Van Meter Williams Pollack, Solutions and PEC. You can read more about it here and register to attend the conference here.


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Green building professionals from across the nation will converge at Fort Mason Center on October 2nd during the West Coast Green Conference to brainstorm design strategies and practical ideas for the continued evolution of Fort Mason Center as a leading environmentally sustainable destination. As part of a planned rehabilitation of Pier 2, Fort Mason Center plans to adopt LEED Silver standards and install a large-scale solar array, which will provide for 80% of energy consumption. The Slam will provide a medium for development of a solar conversion plan by the leading solar engineers in the Bay Area.

This ‘meeting of the minds’ is an opportunity for Fort Mason Center to benefit from the design leaders assembled at West Coast Green and to harvest the intellectual capital of its visionary participants. The Slam is set to involve West Coast Green participants and advisors, including Eric Corey Freed, Gil Friend, David Johnston, Sim Van der Ryn, Bill Reed, The education director from PG&E, and several team members at Sherwood Design Engineers.

The collaboration with West Coast Green will strengthen Fort Mason Center’s role as a model of sustainability and help to generate additional synergy with other partners including Long Now Foundation, the National Park Service, San Francisco Conservation Corps, Zip Car, Eat Well, LMS Architects, and Presidio School of Management.

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A solar array on top of a San Francisco reservoir (NY Times)

A solar array on top of a San Francisco reservoir (NY Times)

In the past couple weeks, some big green news has been coming out of San Francisco.  First there was the news that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have approved a plan to construct the largest solar photovoltaic array, with 5 MW capacity, on top of Sunset ReservoirRecurrent Energy will construct the array and sell the power to the city at a fixed rate of 23.5 cents per kWh, plus 3% inflation per year.  The city could potentially get cheaper rates by constructing it themselves, but they would not be eligable for the significant federal tax breaks that a private company gets, which could cover up to half the cost of the project.

And last week, Mayor Newsom announced that the latest numbers on San Francisco’s recycling program were in and they were achieving 72% diversion from landfills, which seems like they are well on their way to 75% diversion by next year.  The SF program includes recycling of almost all plastics, mandatory construction material recycling, and a food scrap collection program which generates compost that is sold to local farms.  Compare that to NYC’s 2008 residential diversion rate of 16.5% and you can see what an amazing achievement this is.  Hopefully they can teach the rest of the country some tips.

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Greetings –

This is the first in a series of regular updates I will be writing about what we have been working on at Sherwood Design Engineers. I’m excited to share information about these projects with you.

Guangzhou, China

Over the past month, we’ve gotten started with a transformative project in Guangzhou in the heart of China’s manufacturing region. We are working with Hargreaves and SOM to conceptualize the regeneration of a major portion of this city of 6-12 million people, which is 75 miles north of Hong Kong. The project entails transforming polluted land via green technology and enterprise in a 36 square kilometer area of the city in a very important region.

Sherwood Institute

Over the last 3 years Sherwood Design Engineers has invested over a quarter million dollars in research and pro-bono activities to develop a proven, project-driven model for improving and accelerating the availability and energy efficiency of fresh water around the world.  We have taken this effort to the next level with the formal founding of a non-profit. Building on the expertise we’ve accrued tackling challenging sustainability problems around the world, we’ve come up with the following mission for the Sherwood Institute:

Safeguard and extend the availability and energy efficiency of threatened fresh water resources in the 6 developed continents by:
• Improving design and practices that will minimize the water-related carbon footprint and maximize water resource use efficiency.
• Transforming policy roadblocks into opportunities for action.
• “Influencing the influencers” of water practices to change ways that people produce, access and use fresh water resources.
• Improving access for people in poverty to clean drinking water in the developing world.

7×7 Magazine Profile

Closer to home, the latest issue of 7×7 Magazine to hit the newsstand has a full page profile on what we are up to on page 25. It’s a very complimentary and well written article, the details are mostly right (you can see the piece for yourself in the News section of our site).


I just returned from visiting my mom’s permaculture education project in Valladolid, Mexico, in the Yucatan. She’s converted an 300 year old colonial home into a living and breathing building with rainwater harvesting and tropical food production. We’ll post some images here soon.

That’s all for now, in future editions of this letter I will keep you updated on these and other projects. I welcome your feedback and would love to know what you’d like to hear more in the comments section below. Thank you for reading.

Bry Sarte
President, Sherwood Design Engineers

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The AIA  is toasting their Top 10 Green Projects in SF tonight, including Chartwell School. This is the 13th year of the Top Ten Green Projects program, and included contributions of more than 9,000 AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) members and 65 state and local chapters.

We are very excited that Chartwell School was chosen as one of this year’s Top Ten, and we hope it continues to be an inspiring model as both a Green Building, and a Higher Performing School.

The evening will include remarks from guest Bob Ivy, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record and VP/ editorial director of McGraw-Hill Construction Publications, including GreenSource. Toasts will be led by special guest and Cote founding chair, Bob Berkebile, FAIA, and will feature a tribute to Cote leaders Gail Lindsey, FAIA, and Greg Franta, FAIA.

Congratulations to everyone who helped Chartwell make the list, and to all the students and staff at Chartwell school!

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It’s official: The local water board says the SF Bay is trashed, according to the SF Chronicle:

Tons of cigarette butts, diapers, crushed Styrofoam and plastic bottles and bags convinced the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to vote unanimously to designate the edges of the central bay and the south bay, along with 24 rivers and creeks, as places in need of trash controls.

It used to be that just Lake Merritt was deemed “impaired” by the volumes of trash lining the shores, spoiling marine habitats and endangering wildlife. Not any more. Now dozens of Bay tributaries have received the same dubious distinction under the Federal Clean Water Act.

The designation is the first step in putting cities and counties on notice that the EPA could impose fines if they don’t clean up their act. But it could also provide funds to help them, and board members are hoping that $$ from the federal stimulus package will pay for structures beneath roads that capture trash in storm water.

Environmental groups say the vote is a good first step in eliminating plastic bags and street trash from falling into the bay. They also want stormwater permits issued that will require “measurable, enforceable reductions in trash:”

“Citizens are shocked when they realize how much trash is in the bay,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, the nonprofit that has been spearheading an anti-trash campaign over the past two years.

The list of recommended cleanup sites includes some that Sherwood has worked with including Strawberry Creek in Berkeley and Colma Creek in San Mateo County, where we helped write a “GreenStreets Design Guidebook” that demonstrates appropriate stormwater filtration and mitigation strategies to keep our waterways clean.

With the EPA poised to mandate that cities regulate trash or face heavy fines, now would be a good time to start implementing these programs.

While it’s great that volunteers picked up 125 tons of trash – including 15,000 plastic bags – from SF Bay on last year’s Coastal Cleanup Day, it’s pathetic that we let that amount of garbage get anywhere near our vital sources of water.

Shouldn’t it be government’s job to help keep all that trash out of our waterways in the first place?

Hopefully soon, it will be.

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Chinese artist/sculptor Zhan Wang does a futurist interpretations of San Francisco using stainless steel kitchen utensils as part of his “Urban Landscape.” Image courtesy of Pinballism.

Sustainability Happy Hour – East Bay
Wednesday, Dec 17. 5:30 – 7:30 pm
EAST BAY GREEN DRINKS is a lively monthly gathering for anyone interested in sustainability, including green business, environmental and social causes, architecture and design, organics, renewable energy and more. Check the website for this month’s location in Berkeley or Oakland.

Is Gavin Newsom running for Governor? For $100 you can find out!
Thursday Dec 18. 6-8 pm
Gavin’s holding a fundraiser at the Matrix Fillmore. Various supervisors and other politicoes will be supporting Newsom for “California Exploratory Committee.”

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco Long Now Foundation
Friday, Dec 19. Doors open 7:00pm, talk at 7:30pm lasting ~1.5 hours
Located at Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason Center

Rick Prelinger is a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible. Prelinger will be presenting his third annual “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco” event, an eclectic montage of lost and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes and labor in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers.

How we remember and record the past reveals much about how we address the future. Prelinger will preface the film with a brief talk on how fragmentary, incomplete histories are being overtaken by pervasive real-time documentation, and how history, memory and property are combining into a new matrix of experience.

We encourage the audience to interact with the film, especially to identify mystery scenes! After the event will be a reception and HOLIDAY PARTY at The Long Now Museum and Store. The Prelingers, Long Now’s staff and board will be on hand, and we plan to continue to project footage from the Prelinger Archive on every surface we can. There will be some light snacks and wine served.

Have a Great Week!

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